Méribel, part of the 3 Valleys skiing area in the French alps (incidentally the largest connected skiing area in the world), is a beautiful, small town with a fantastic skiing area on its doorstep. Whether you are a beginner or a seasoned skier, there is plenty of skiing to keep you occupied for at least seven full days, with loads of great bars & restaurants on the piste.
How to book your ski trip
Shauna and I booked our trip with Crystal Ski, which was a convenient and relatively cheap way to get everything sorted for the holiday. If you’ve never been skiing before, there are a few additional elements to bear in mind before booking:
- Skiing gear (jacket, salopettes, gloves, goggles, thermals)
- Cost of a ski pass (can be in the region of €200-300)
- Cost of hiring ski equipment (skis/snowboard, boots, helmet)
- Cost of ski lessons
A lot of people can be put off by these extra considerations. We all know how easy it is to book a package holiday to Spain, dig out the shorts and bikinis and crash on the beach for a week (believe me, I love doing that too). But a skiing holiday is well worth the extra time and effort, because you can get the best of both worlds: sunshine, drinks, partying and the exhilarating rush of skiing down a mountain at 40+ kph.
As for the items above: on the first point, you can always ask friends and family to see if anyone has skiing gear you can borrow, which will help cut costs dramatically. The other three points just require a bit of extra spending money, and they can all be arranged through Crystal (or whoever you book the trip with), so there’s no stress involved in arranging any of it.
When to go skiing
This was my second ‘end of season’ trip to France to visit my brother (11-18 March), and I would highly recommend this time of year to anyone thinking of taking their first (or fourth or tenth) ski trip. In March the slopes are much quieter, the weather is likely to be perfect, and it makes the whole experience so much more fun. The season officially ends in April, however by that time of the year the snow can be hit and miss, so March is a perfect happy medium.
Skiing as a Beginner
Shauna: Having never been skiing before, I was quite nervous about booking and heading off on a ski holiday. It isn’t cheap to go skiing and I was pretty worried that I wouldn’t enjoy it. However, literally everyone I spoke to said it was the best holiday they’d ever been on, and Sam is skiing’s biggest champion so I thought might as well give it a go.
Learning to ski is hard. The only thing I can compare it to is learning to drive. There are so many things to focus on all at once and coordination is not my strong suit. I had lessons every morning at 9am and by day 2/3 I was skiing fairly confidently down green/blue slopes.
When you’re standing at the top of a steep section of the run it looks a lot scarier than when you look back up from the bottom. One thing I learned was that it is easier just to go for it than to stand at the top worrying about if you can, there’s no other way down.
It’s safe to say that by the end of the week, I loved it. I never thought that I’d be looking forward to summer being over and winter coming in, but looking back over the pictures and videos from our trip, that is exactly how I feel.
If you’d like a more in-depth view of learning to ski as an adult, check out my blog post and video all about it here: Learning to Ski – A Beginner’s Guide
For seasoned skiers
Sam: Having skied in various resorts in Austria, France, Switzerland & the US, I can safely recommend Méribel as one of the best I’ve visited in terms of the variety of runs, the scenery, bars, aprés-ski and value for money.
Whether you are looking for a casual skiing holiday (mostly greens, blues and the occasional red) or are planning to cover as much ground as possible, Méribel has the runs for it. There are plenty of places to stop for lunch, whether you’ve packed your own or fancy a hot meal. One of our favourites was a bar called la Folie Douce, which had live music and a great lunch deal (2 courses plus a drink for €10).
In terms of nightlife, there are plenty of bars and restaurants in the area, though we did end up cooking a lot of our own meals to save money. There are a couple of local supermarkets with all the essentials, so a quick stock-up on your first night will keep you going for the holiday. When you do feel like eating out, you can get great 2 for 1 burgers on a Tuesday at Scott’s (go wild and pay the extra for sweet potato fries, they’re worth it) or a delicious takeaway pizza from Le Spot (best enjoyed after a few drinks).
See for yourself
Since arriving home we’ve relived the holiday over and over with the GoPro footage we captured on the slopes. Shauna has distilled the experience into a short video; see for yourself why skiing in Méribel is one of the best holidays we’ve ever been on: